Writers Journal

Writer's Journal

October 21, 2013


Over the past year, as I’ve been working on the second draft of my utopian novel, I have tried on at least five different endings; none really fit; none felt true.

And then this past weekend, raking leaves out on my hillside, the ending popped into my mind, like a gift from the subconscious. 

Unlike the others, this one fit immediately, as if it had always been the only possible ending and I just now realized it--one of those “Ah-ha!” experiences where creativity is more about discovery than invention.







October 1, 2013


As I prepared to send the manuscript for Emily Hargraves to the publisher, I did one final read-through, and found a typo that neither I nor Spell-check had caught.

Mildred Whytecliff is a minor but important character in the story, a 76-year old nosy neighbor who has lived next door to the Hargraves most of her life. She is introduced to the reader at the beginning of Chapter 7:

“Mildred Whytecliff was peering out her kitchen window.”

Except I had left out the “r” in “peering”—which would have given Mildred’s character a whole new slant that I never intended.










In the 1980s, I was living and teaching in Japan, and on a number of occasions played tennis with Japanese friends. During my first year, they invited me for a “tennis weekend” at a mountain resort in central Honshu.

The second day was hot on the clay courts, and at one point I stripped off my T-shirt. While culturally appropriate on any tennis court back home in Seattle, I apparently scandalized all of Niigata Prefecture. With great embarrassment, my doubles partner whispered that I could not “play nude.”

I quickly apologized and slipped my shirt back on, though this embarrassment struck me as very odd since just the night before, we—men and women—had all bathed together in the resort’s large o-furo, which I’m pretty sure is not culturally appropriate in Seattle, without anyone showing the least embarrassment.

It was my first lesson in understanding the peculiar logic of a different culture, and I later included the experience in Tales of Tokyo.




August 5, 2013


This morning, sitting at my writing desk, I watch the hummingbirds outside my study window.






They take turns, perching on the skeletal remains of a foxglove and peering in at me.









I would like to think that they're interested in my writing--

What's my new novel about?

Will it feature a hummingbird hero?

Would I consider it?--






but I suspect they're really just sticking close to the feeder.












July 24, 2013

Me:     How was your weekend?

Co-worker:     Fine. We went camping. How was yours?

Me:     Great! I spent the whole time in Tokyo.

Co-worker:     ???